Talking with Berlin's Terri Nunn before their Phoenix concert with Culture Club | Phoenix New Times


Berlin's Terri Nunn talks ‘Top Gun,’ tour life and moving on from mistakes

The '80s rockers join Boy George and Howard Jones for a night of retro music.
Louis Rodiger
Share this:
How strange is it that we live in a world where humility and accountability are seen as refreshing?

Neither trait is what we expect of our current crop of rock 'n' roll stars, sadly, unless they are associated with a street called “E.” Luckily, though, there are still some good folks out there who can also belt out a tune. Several of them are playing the Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre on Friday night, when Culture Club, Howard Jones, and Berlin will take the stage and brave the heat for adoring fans of 80s fun.

Terri Nunn has been Berlin’s lead singer since 1981. The still ravishing 62-year-old chanteuse is charming, honest
and down-to-earth when she talks about her career and the band she still clearly loves. It doesn’t take long to feel at ease with her in conversation and unlike many of her famous peers, she seems to relish asking questions as much as answering them.

Many fans know of Berlin, and Nunn more specifically, from the song “Take My Breath Away” from the "Top Gun" soundtrack in 1986. The Academy Award-winning song was sung by Nunn and written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock. Nunn remembers meeting Moroder at the premiere of a movie she was in 1978 called "Thank God It’s Friday."

“[Moroder] was there [at the premiere] with Donna Summer. He had been breaking out in America as a producer and songwriter. I was so excited to meet him. What he did with [Summer] was amazing. I had never heard anything like it. He had no interest in me whatsoever, but it was funny that a few years later, we won an Oscar together,” Nunn says.

Prior to being on the "Top Gun" soundtrack, though, Berlin released a string of hits including "Sex (I'm a...)," "The Metro" and "No More Words," to name a few. More recently, Nunn and Berlin released the sneaky good "Transcendence" record in 2019. Nunn sounds as good as ever live and on the band's recordings. She credits her lifestyle for the strength and quality of her voice.

“Diet, exercise and mental stability," she says, laughing. "I try to stay sane in this traveling circus that is a tour. Three bands, you know. I love it. I love doing shows with other bands and five shows a week is a lot. I’m a vegan and that works for me. I work out five days a week. I can’t party like I used to, but I still party a little bit. If I get enough sleep, I can do anything.”

Over the last few years, founding members of Berlin John Crawford (bass) and David Diamond (keyboard) have rejoined the band, which is currently a sextet. Nunn says the band is having a blast.

“It’s a great tour. The venues are fantastic, and the bands are great. Howard Jones, I haven’t played with in a while, and I’m really impressed with his show. Culture Club, we started playing with them last year, so I already knew their show was great. People seem to love the pairing of Culture Club and Berlin,” she says.

Nunn cites the lack of ego among the bands as a reason for their true camaraderie. For a performer that has had a few tough things in her life — band members coming and going, a Penthouse magazine spread when she was under 18, and her solo performance in 2020 at Mar-A-Lago — Nunn is resilient and humble. She credits being willing to own her actions as a way to cope with making regrettable decisions.

“For me, it’s owning it. We all fuck up. What I’ve found with other artists who fucked up some how is that it goes a lot better when someone owns their actions and says, ‘Yeah, I fucked up,’ instead of ignoring it or justifying it or attacking back. [Mar-A-Lago] was a fuck-up. It was a bad decision on my part. I didn’t think it through. I have no interest in Trump. I wouldn’t vote for him. It just seemed like something fun to do after a year and a half of sitting home and finally getting to go out and play somewhere,” Nunn says.
The singer apologized for her actions and moved on. In the last couple of years, Berlin has shown to be just as vital as ever and Nunn is a huge reason why. Check out the band’s cover of The Cult’s song “She Sells Sanctuary” to see just how rockin’ things can get.

Berlin. In support of Culture Club, with Howard Jones. 7 p.m., Friday, August 18, at Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre, 2121 N. 83rd Ave. Tickets start at $20 and are available here.
KEEP NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls. Make a one-time donation today for as little as $1.